Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering held its annual Alumni Awards Induction Ceremony on April 20. The College of Engineering Alumni Awards were created in 1994 to recognize outstanding engineering alumni from the College.

This year 30 College of Engineering graduates were honored at the Induction Ceremony. They were celebrated for their contributions to the engineering profession, career accomplishments, and the ways they’ve enhanced the lives of others both personally and professionally.

This year's inductees from Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are:

James Robert (Bob) Sanders, ChE 1959 (Engineering Hall of Fame)

Retired Chief of Pathology, Sarasota Memorial Hospital Retired Managing 

After graduating from Georgia Tech, Bob worked for two years in the polymer research and development division of the Monsanto Corporation. He then earned a degree in medicine from the University of Florida, graduating first in his class. Over the next five years, he served in the United States Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. He also completed his medical residency in the Osler Medical Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Pathology Department of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. 

He practiced for the next 42 years as the managing partner of an eight-person group, Sarasota Pathology (later Sarapath Diagnostics), and chief of pathology for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. Sarasota Memorial honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award shortly before his retirement. Bob still supports Tech and recommends it as an excellent base that prepares one to follow wherever life might lead. He also supports other universities and many community activities, especially those combating climate change.

Bob Spencer

James Robert (Bob) Spencer (center) with College of Engineering Dean Raheem Beyah and co-host Tom Fanning (IM 1979, M.S. IM 1980, Hon. Ph.D. 2013), retired chairman, president, and CEO, Southern Company

Erika Peterman

Erika Peterman, ChE 1997 (Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni)

Senior Vice President, Global Intermediates & Derivatives Manufacturing and Oxyfuels, LyondellBasel

Erika started her career as a process engineer, working in olefins manufacturing at BASF Corporation. Over time, she moved into management and leadership positions in global marketing, strategy, and regional business management. Her experience spans a variety of industries, both commodity and specialty in nature. Her international experience includes assignments in Germany and Switzerland. Prior to joining LyondellBasell (LYB) in May 2023, she was SVP of BASF’s Chemical Intermediates Americas Business Unit. Erika currently leads two global organizations at LYB — the Oxyfuels Business Unit and the Intermediates & Derivatives Manufacturing team. 

Erika is a non-executive member of the board of directors for Drax Group plc, a UK-headquartered biomass power generation company. Passionate about STEM fields and supporting education for underprivileged students, she and her husband, Doug, created an endowment to support Georgia Tech. Erika earned an MBA from the University of Houston. She lives in Texas and serves on the College of Engineering External Advisory Board at both Georgia Tech and the University of Houston.

Lingbo Zhu, PhD ChE 2007 (Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni)

Executive President, Oversea e-Car Business, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL)

After earning his Georgia Tech Ph.D., Lingbo joined Dow Chemical in Michigan, where he worked as a research specialist for new product development. Envisioning the future of electric mobility, Lingbo moved to China in 2012 to join CATL, then a startup for lithium-ion battery development and manufacturing for electric vehicles (EVs). Starting as a senior manager, he led the research and development team for the development of advanced EV batteries. CATL is now a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest EV battery producer. 

Lingbo and his teams developed and commercialized various batteries with innovative materials, new designs and processes, and installed in more than 2 million EVs with internationally recognized brands. He has promoted various technologies, including long lifetime batteries, no thermal propagation technologies, and innovative silicon anodes. Lingbo earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from East China University of Science and Technology. He lives in Ningde, China, with his wife, Qiaowei Li.

Lingbo Zhu
Ashley Newton

Ashley Newton, CHBE 2009 (Council of Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni)

Tetrashield Innovation Program Manager, Eastman Chemical

Ashley relocated to southeast Texas following graduation to start her career with ExxonMobil. During the next 12 years, she worked at four petrochemical manufacturing sites, first as a support engineer and then in supervisory roles. She actively participated in the ExxonMobil campus recruiting efforts, returning to Georgia Tech twice a year to interview interns, co-ops, and full-time candidates. She spent her last year at ExxonMobil as a product manager. The birth of Ashley’s daughter and the Covid-19 pandemic hastened the need to relocate closer to family, so she reconnected with Eastman Chemical Company, where she had interned while at Tech. 

In her current role, Ashley leads a top corporate innovation program, Tetrashield coating resins, which includes managing the technology platform and global product launches. In 2018, Ashley and her husband funded an endowment through the Georgia Tech Foundation to help out-of[1]state students study engineering. They currently live in Johnson City, Tennessee, with their two young children